A drink most of my South Asian friends and family consider medicine, was just starting to perk the ears of the wellness industry when I originally shared this simple, family recipe for Haldi Doodh. Fast forward to 2019 and our yellow milk is now the trendy golden milk latte. Served in hip coffee shops all across the United States. A part of me wishes my grandparents lived to see this turmeric surge. It’s likely they would have been intrigued, confused, and like most of their generation, happy that their staple spice was finally recognized by the United States as medicinal. While also commenting that the golden milk latte has way too much turmeric!
Personally, I need to recalibrate when I hear the name golden milk. Instead of seeing visions of turmeric, I see a teacup of saffron and raisin topped with crushed almonds and pistachios. The vibe surrounding me is golden, energetic and excited for a celebration as we sip on this golden aphrodisiac.
On the other hand, when I hear turmeric and milk, the energy dulls, and the colors turn gray. While golden milk is sunshine in a cup on gray winter’s day, an immunity booster, a natural antibiotic, the anti-everything, miracle root that makes everything it touches golden, it is still my childhood medicine during an onset of a cold with a cough —Haldi Doodh. Translated it means yellow milk. Made as a medicinal grade elixir, slow-cooked and infused with an intention to prevent or heal and give ‘sakhat’ (strength). This strength is not the type to push one out of bed, it is cellular strength. One that has long term nourishing benefits on the immune system.
Along with the antibiotic properties, every sip of Haldi Doodh also carries energy. Of the mother who served it to you as a child, and her mother, her mother, and her mother. Even in a time when our lifestyles and language may differ from our elders, and our eyes may no longer meet, Haldhi Doodh is still a living cold season ritual in many South Asian homes—across the globe. Acknowledging, respecting and embracing multi-generational, energy medicine. It requires no scientific data to prove its medicinal worth. Nor is made up of a hodgepodge of apothecary herbs. Haldi Doodh is simple, yet a powerful home-brewed infusion made from everyday culinary spices.
In my family, and quite commonly, Haldi Doodh is infused with cloves. Another spice that helps make turmeric bioavailable. While black pepper has recently been regarded in this arena, I cannot discount the time-tested practices of my ancestors. With studies, I find it challenging to acquire the pertinent details. Like, who is the studies funder, and in this case, if other spices were also studied. And if so, which ones? Also, did the scientist account for the heating and cooling potencies?
My curious nature led me to inquire with my trusted Ayurveda Vaidyas. Who are fully versed in the ancient texts and allopathic medicine. To ask if other spices make turmeric bioavailable. What I learned, was what my instincts knew all along, black pepper is not the only spice to boost the bioavailability of turmeric. While I never doubted my ancestor’s choice, I wanted to confirm my understanding and approach to how spices engage in the body was valid. In having over four decades of drinking clove infused turmeric and milk to boost my immune system in times of illness, very seldom has black pepper used. Cloves have similar actions as black pepper, but are cooling. The cooling potency balances turmeric’s heating potency. Cloves are also known to melt away excess phlegm and have anti-spasmodic action. Helping to calm down a cough and the analgesic action relieves pain.
This is not to discount the use of black pepper in golden milk blends, the intention is to show there is more than one way. While today’s science has value, so does centuries of tradition. Which is linked to kitchens run by women. Who hold the oral teachings of generations past. Their science is in their rituals. When voiced, it may sound simple to those looking for big scientific words. However, if we step back and listen with curiosity, and an understanding of their culture, we can hear the wisdom.
Their wisdom lies not only in the alchemy of ingredients but also in the cooking process. Unlike the quick brew of a golden milk latte, Haldhi Doodh is slow-brewed. Infused with an intention to heal. Acknowledging medicinal grade beverages take time and energy. The essential oils need to be extracted and then bind with the carrier. Traditionally this has been cow’s milk. Which in Ayurvedic Medicine has the ability to reach all the seven tissues, or dhatus—from plasma to the reproductive tissues.
Just as the spices are considered medicine, so is the slow, calming nature of the cooking process. In Ayurveda, energy is also a form of medicine. The cooking technique and the person’s mood are an integral ingredient as are the spice’s quality. In a time, when fast is better than slow, when it comes to Haldi Doodh, slow is the optimal speed. Likewise, less is more and simplicity does not discount the medicine’s potency. Happy drinking. Happy digesting.
Haldi & Dhood | a simple golden milk to boost immunity
a medicinal grade, slow brewed golden milk made with culinary spices.
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cardamom powder or 1 crushed cardamom pod
- 1 clove
- 1/4-1/2 tsp raw cane or coconut or date sugar optional
- 3/4 cup whole cow's milk raw or non-homegenized
- 1/2 cup water filtered
in a heavy, bottom stainless steel pot, add all ingredients, mix and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. then reduce the temperature and let the mixture continue to simmer for 15 minutes until you have 1 cup of liquid. monitor this process, as milk tends to spill over. placing a wooden spoon over the pot can help prevent this. Strain or remove cloves before serving. enjoy warm and with love.
- another common way to make golden milk is to make make a slow-cooked turmeric paste infused with spices. another valuable approach as the spices and herbs have been transformed and the medicine extracted. still take the time, especially in situations of illness to infuse the paste with the milk.
- if you opt out of animal milk, add a little bit of ghee or coconut oil to your nut, seed or grain milk.
- this golden milk can be enjoyed as an occasional immune booster, as a form of prevention or when feeling under the weather. it is not meant to be used solely as a cure.